the Journey

  • Distance to go: 0 Mi

    Ben and Tarka will cover 1800 miles starting from Scott's Terra Nova Hut at the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back to the coast again. That's equivalent to 69 back-to-back marathons hauling up to 200kg each (the weight of roughly two adult men) of kit and supplies necessary to survive.

    Distances here are shown in statute miles.

Milestones (Day 91)

Day 91: S82° 18' 31.2", E169° 27' 27"

Duration: 9 Hr

Daily distance: 24.8 Mi

Distance to go: 344.2 Mi

Temperature: -5 °C

Wind chill: -11 °C

Altitude: 157 Ft

Andy (our expedition manager) emailed us a selection of a couple of dozen recent comments from the blog. We're on such a tight schedule of skiing, blogging, eating and sleeping here (and so zonked) that we don't have time to read them all at the moment, sadly, but I'm a) staggered at the interest and support we're getting, and b) feeling guilty for writing such short posts lately. We're hugely grateful for each and every comment, and I can't wait to read them all when I'm back in the land of wifi, coffee and cake, probably in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Today was, as you can probably guess, another challenging one. The weather was fine this morning but it clouded over in the afternoon and we found ourselves again trudging through a very flat light towards a faint grey horizon that we'd never reach. The hardest bit by far, though, is getting up in the mornings. We're waking up progressively more tired each day and getting out of a cozy sleeping bag to do nine hours of skiing with a sledge in tow is taking every ounce of determination and self-discipline we have.

We're constantly hungry too, and this Winnie the Pooh quote from the recent comments (thanks Sue and Noodle!) sums up our current mindset to a tee: 'When you wake up in the morning,Pooh,' said Piglet at last, 'what's the first thing you say to yourself ?. 'What's for breakfast ? ' said Pooh. 'What do you say, Piglet?' 'I say I wonder what's going to happen exciting to-day?' said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully. 'It's the same thing,' he said.

Last up, for your amusement, I've sent back a tent 'selfie' featuring my 91-day beard. 

And I'll finish by answering a good question from Jim:

Q) Physically, how do you plan to re-adjust after a gruelling experience like this? How different does it feel now that you are in a lower altitude?

A) Tarka and I talk about this a lot, and while we don't have a definite plan, we both think we could sleep for twice as much as we are at the moment (averaging five to six hours per night out here) and we can both reel off vast fantasy food lists of all the things we're going to devour when we get back to civilisation. Perhaps strangely, I'm looking forward to doing some 'normal' exercise again - running, cycling, weight training - as we've become hopelessly imbalanced and weak when it comes to anything except plodding at a moderate speed dragging a sledge. I'm also planning a few weeks of 'rehab' at the hands of Balance Physio in London (and my excellent massage therapist Kellie), with Putney Chiropractic Clinic (and the excellent Dr. Craig) and possibly also throwing in some accupuncture (I've never tried it), a bit of yoga and a few other things. As far as being back at sea level goes (well, 24 metres above it this evening) the difference is phenomenal. We both found ourselves frequently short of breath above 3,000m on the plateau, which obviously isn't an issue down here. It's a great deal warmer too, and we've gone from windchill in the minus 30s and 40s to ambient temperatures barely below freezing and windchill that's rarely in double figures, so life is far more pleasant and we no longer have to prise our frozen face masks away from our iced-up beards before getting into our sleeping bags in the evening...


# Mia, January 24th 2014

One day extra is a small amount of time if it enables you to finish the ex. Without dramas. Your doing so well, keep it up. Xx

# Sue( and Noodle ), January 24th 2014

Ben… Re acupuncture. ask Tarks about Caroline ( he will remember her wedding !!! ) She gives acupuncture to needy cricketers and weary sports people. Unfortunately she was’nt in Australia !!!    Pooh by the laptop reading as we speak. !!!!

# Intrepid, January 24th 2014

Opinions on Selfie
    Beard - 5
    Tossled hair look - 3
    Extreme polar explorer look - 10
    Playful - 4
    Exhaustion - 9
    Reverie - 7
    Tent Organization - 1
    Camping fun - 0
    91 day camping look - 10
    Satisfaction - indescribable

# Mal Owen, January 24th 2014

Doing a Richard…..Tossled = New word for OED ? ...I call that bed

# Intrepid, January 24th 2014

Mal - tossled is the phonetic spelling version of tousled ;o

# Intrepid, January 27th 2014

This note is written a few days later, after the posting of Tarka’s selfie. I just wanted to say that Ben’s photo is so full of character that I felt compelled to play with what was written all over his face (as well as in the tent). If I have offended anyone, I am sorry. If I have clued anyone in about the look of pride as well as the smile which Ben’s selfie emits, my intention has reached its mark. Ben’s photo exquisitely captures the image of what I have been on the edge of my seat these last few months to hear firsthand about,the life of a real Polar Explorer.

# Susan from Michigan, January 24th 2014

I agree with everyone else that a day of rest and extra rations are in order. You want to feel the best you can as you finish your trip. You have always written plenty of news on your blog,especially under the circumstances you are enduring. Hope you write a book and then tour to promote it…..hopefully in my area. I would LOVE to meet both of you and hear more about the trip. Stay safe and I look forward to more news tomorrow.

# Christy, Indiana, US, January 24th 2014

Due to a blizzard that kept Scott and the remainder of his polar party tent bound, Scott perished 11 miles south of his One Ton Depot laid at 79° 29’ S right?  Ben and Tarka are still south of that point at S82° 18’ 31.2”.  If they took a rest day now and/or doubled up on rations, what if they were to later become pinned down by weather?  Personally if I were in their skiis, I’d be flying with the wind as hard as I could push to sneak past the ghosts of 1912 and not tempt fate.  Might be nice, clear, balmy weather now but a blizzard could happen at any time there can’t it?  Just a thought from a non-expert.

# Jarda, January 24th 2014

don´t forget that Scott´s team got on Barrier at very late season (at the end of February) while Ben and Tarka are here more than a month earlier.
Ben and Tarka do not have to be afraid of such extremely cold weather which contributed to Capt. Scott´s tragical fate (he didn´t perish due to one blizzard only).

Ben and Tarka, nothing will happen if you take one “resting” day….

# Richard Pierce, January 24th 2014

It isn’t clear if Scott’s comments on blizzards were hallucinations or not. Blizzards on the Antarctic cannot last longer than 3-4 days, according to current science, something I have explored in my book about the search for the bodies of Scott and his men.


# Andrea, January 24th 2014

Of course, this is one of the concequences indeed, for who forgets that this looks like a dangerous march pursued with absent intermediary bases that, instead, exist in the climbing march.

# Paul Adams, January 24th 2014

Ben, Tarka, v impressed with the steady progress you’re making, 40km per day regardless of conditions!  Keep it up and god speed.
Andy, how many more depots? Do they have provisions for a rest day?

# pam, January 24th 2014

Killer job, guys!  I always enjoy your posts (in all their shapes and sizes) and marvel you have the stamina to do them at all. It’s a privilege to follow your adventure in ‘real time’. Take care.

# Matt (Minnesota), January 24th 2014

I can well imagine how hard it is to enjoy an extra day’s sleep or food while knowing you have to get back to the grind. Keep to your schedule, you’re mentally and physically well adapted; there is very little to be gained by an early relaxation.

Pushing now will gain you several days of extra rations, ensure that your schedule will be met and will take full advantage of your sharply honed discipline and instincts. Two more weeks and you’ll be back in ‘the world’ with endlessly full bellies, all the sleep you can handle and time enough to twirl your thumbs while planning the next adventure.

Great job guys, you’ve given the world another standard by which men can measure themselves.

# Louis Manners, January 24th 2014

Ben and Tarka congratulations! Glad to hear you’re making such fantastic progress across the ice, despite the obvious physical wear. I’ve been wondering what music you listen to during your sessions, could you give us some examples of the tracks at the end of the expedition? Lastly, and most importantly, I wish you a safe onward journey for the last 350 miles! Louis.

# Willie Hannah, January 24th 2014

Guys you are doing well, but I agree with all of the other comments regarding having a rest: however if you feel you must go when you can, then go you must.  The rest breaks, if planned can be blown out by bad weather, so maybe a word to the big man for a 24 hour storm so you can have a break is in order.  Ben, you are looking like the spitting image of your old man in that selfie.  Hoofing effort, be strong, be safe, rest if you can, regards, Willie

# Heidi, January 24th 2014

You know you’re hard core when:

1.  You set and accomplish audacious expedition goals.
2.  You plan for 10 years to go and conquer the unconquerable.
3.  You execute said plan to conquer the unconquerable (nearly there, gentlemen!).
4.  Whilst out conquering the unconquerable, you have fantasies about your next grueling workout after arrival back to civilization.

That’s Hard Core!

By the way, how is Tarka’s wind faring these days?  :-))  (Hard Yards, Day 4)

Warm hugs from Southern California (PS, we don’t really use the word “whilst” here!)

# Sheila, January 24th 2014

You look wonderful for what you have been going through. Now how about one of your room mate?

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